06.12.2018 at 00:56
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Half Of Australian Renters Live In Fear

New report claims nearly half of Australian renters live in constant fear of rate hikes or eviction.

The report, titled "The Distrupted: The Consumer Experience of Renting in Australia, was commissioned by the consumer advocacy group Choice, housing affordability group National Shelter, and the National Organisation of Tenant Associations.

According to the report, which surveyed 1,547 renters, nearly half of them are living in homes that need repairs, but are afraid to ask for repairs for fear their rent will be raised or they will be evicted.

And many of the remainder who weren't afraid felt their request would be ignored anyway.

Some of the renters' complaints included mould, cockroaches, faulty appliances, leaky faucets or pipes, dodgy wiring, problems with locks, doors, and windows, moth and ant infestations, heating and cooling.


A full 78 per cent of the renters surveyed said they had some kind of problem with their bathroom since moving in.

Choice spokeswoman Erin Turner said the report might help give people confidence to exercise their rights.

"The research uncovered some shocking, unsafe and heartbreaking situations."

Divorced renter Melanie, 55, said that her landlords "bullied" here when she complained, and said they were constantly "coming around" to do what they called "repairs", including unlicensed electrical work.

"Every time the landlords come over you feel as if it’s a house inspection.

"She was really quite intrusive. She could see I kept the house beautiful, I treated it as if it was my own. I’m 55 years old — having house inspections is really humiliating."

Then when she eventually moved out, even though she cared for the home well, the landlord refused to return her $2,000 deposit.

Melanie had to take the landlord to a civil tribunal to get her deposit returned.

"It was a simple matter but it’s amazing she got away with this before.

"And then of course I had to wait weeks for my money to come through. $2000 is probably not much for property owners but it’s a huge amount for a renter."

She said she no longer wants to be at the "mercy" of landlords anymore.

"I’m getting over being bullied; I really don’t want to rent again. I’m a housesitter now. It’s fantastic. I sort of couch surf."


In every Australian state and territory except Victoria, tenants can be evicted on a no-grounds basis, but the recent Victorian law will only become effective in 2020.

Said Ms Turner: "We’ve got families living with mould all over their homes and left waiting weeks for repairs. This simply isn’t good enough."

"Under the Australian Consumer Law, Australians know that if we have a problem with something we buy, then we have the right to a repair, refund, or replacement.

"But when it comes to getting the most basic of our needs – shelter – Australians live in fear. It’s time for consistent and fair laws that guarantee every Australian has a safe, secure and affordable home."

CEO of National Shelter, Adrian Pisarski, said the research highlights major problems.

"Fifty-one per cent of Australians who rent are living in homes that need repairs – [this] is unacceptable and we need leadership to turn this around.

"Property lobbyists fight reform every step of the way, but good regulation helps everyone. Let’s support good landlords by bringing everyone up to their standard.

"We need a coordinated approach to rental standards, so we can make the relationship between people who rent and those who rent to us a positive one."

Renters are more than twice as likely to have trouble making ends meet than non-renters, and sometimes being evicted can cause them even more difficulty.

The report calls for better protection for tenants, and claims the current system is "broken" and that the private rental market does not function in a way which affords the basic protections people expect from mere retail goods.


"Australians have stronger consumer protections when they buy something from their local supermarket than when they spend tens of thousands of dollars renting a home," said Ms Turner.

"We’ve got families living with mould all over their homes and left waiting weeks for repairs. This simply isn’t good enough.

"Under the Australian Consumer Law, Australians know that if we have a problem with something we buy, then we have the right to a repair, refund, or replacement.

"But when it comes to getting the most basic of our needs – shelter – Australians live in fear. It’s time for consistent and fair laws that guarantee every Australian has a safe, secure and affordable home."

"Australians who rent are living in homes that are in desperate need of repairs, and unlike in any other market for consumer goods, they are unable to assert their rights to a remedy because they fear eviction or an unreasonable hike in rent."

"Australians have stronger consumer protections when they buy something from their local supermarket than when they spend tens of thousands of dollars renting a home," Ms Turner said.

"We’ve got families living with mould all over their homes and left waiting weeks for repairs. This simply isn’t good enough. It’s time for consistent and fair laws that guarantee every Australian has a safe, secure and affordable home."

Mr Pisasrski from National Shelter said, "Property lobbyists fight reform every step of the way, but good regulation helps everyone. Let’s support good landlords by bringing everyone up to their standard."

Penny Carr, CEO of Tenants Queensland, said no-grounds evictions "effectively render our other protections useless" and they should be banned across the country.

"You shouldn’t be kicked out of your home because the person who rents it to you can’t be bothered to provide basic maintenance and repairs."

The changes to Victorian law will limit rent rises to once per year, and restrict no-reason evictions to when a first fixed lease expires.

Apartment photos: supplied by Choice

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